April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, so highlighting the dangers of texting while driving seems appropriate. Every year, over half a million people are injured or killed in traffic-related deaths due to texting while driving alone.
However, there are other distractions besides texting that can compete for our attention while driving. You should not let anything divert your attention from fully focusing on driving.
Here are some ways to maintain your focus and arrive at your destination safely:
- Turn your phone off. You can also put your phone on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode.
- Put your phone out of reach. Store your phone in the glove box or trunk. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind.”
- Go shopping at the app store. There are plenty of apps that can block you from texting and can send an auto response to let others know that you are driving. The nice thing is that many of these apps are free of charge and just need to be downloaded.
- Use a dashboard or windshield mount. If you need to use GPS for navigational purposes, make sure that it is properly mounted to the dashboard. Decide on your route, enter addresses and check traffic conditions prior to your departure.
- Use voice commands and Bluetooth, but only when absolutely necessary. Hands-free texting and talking can still be distracting and driving requires your full attention.
- Finish dressing and personal grooming before you get on the road. It sounds silly, but we have all seen it. Someone using the vanity mirror to apply lipstick or shave their beard.
- Make sure children and pets are properly secure. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
- Let your passengers help you focus on driving. If you have other people in the car, let them run the GPS, find just the right song, or send a text for you.
As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Make a commitment not use your phone and avoid any potential distractions while driving.